Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Immigration News - January 2014



Working in the UK


Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration Report: Annual Report 2012-13 (Working in the UK)

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, has published his fifth Annual Report.

Key points concerning working in the UK were as follows:
  • An inspection of entrepreneur and investor applications under Tier 1 of Points Based System identified that applications were taking eight times longer to be decided in Sheffield than overseas.
  • A backlog of 9,000 entrepreneur and investor applications had also developed, which had not been anticipated by the Home Office.
  • Decisions on investor applications were reasonable for the majority of cases but over a third of entrepreneur cases were unreasonable. Adequate records of decisions had not been kept in more than two-fifths of the files examined.


Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

The transitional controls restricting access to the UK labour market for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals expired on 31 December 2013.

From 1 January 2014, Romanian and Bulgarian nationals have the same access to the labour market as any other European Economic Area (EEA) national (apart from those from Croatia who require worker authorisation).

Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, like any other EEA national, can only stay in the UK for more than 3 months if they are exercising treaty rights as a worker, student, self-employed or self sufficient person. Those not working or seeking work must be able to support themselves and their families and must have comprehensive medical insurance.

Further information on exercising treaty rights can be found here.



New Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) form

The Home Office (UKBA) has published a new version of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) form.

This form is for those who are already in the UK.



Education



Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration Report: Annual Report 2012-13 (Education)

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, has published his fifth Annual Report.

Key points concerning studying in the UK were as follows:

  • A thematic inspection of student applications under Tier 4 of the Points Based System found that decision quality was good and that requests for sponsor licences were being carefully considered before decisions were made. However, cases were found where applicants had been incorrectly refused.
  • He was pleased that the Home Office had launched a project to analyse appeal outcomes with a view to improving decision-making, which was a recommendation he had made in previous reports.
  • He was concerned to find that a backlog of almost 153,000 notifications had developed, where sponsors had informed the Home Office that foreign students' circumstances had changed. Additionally, no targets were in place to manage these sponsor notifications effectively.
The full report can be downloaded here.


Tier 4 Guidance Republished

The Home Office (UKBA) has republished the Tier 4 guidance.

This version does not introduce any new policies but it provides additional clarification in response to customer feedback received.

The latest version can be downloaded here.


Inspection of the Visa Section in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Education)

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, has published a report on his inspection of the Visa Section in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Key points in relation to Tier 4 visa applications were as follows:

The Inspection of the Dhaka Visa Section found that the quality of the decision-making was 'poor' for student applications.

They found this was mainly due to ECOs failing to take a balanced view of an applicant's performance during interview.

Several improvements were necessary in relation to the use of 'credibility interviews' for Tier 4 applicants under the PBS, including:
  • The need to communicate clearly the purpose of the Sheffield credibility interview, so that it was understood and trusted by ECOs.
  • Further credibility interviews undertaken overseas needed to be conducted fairly.
  • ECO's must receive adequate training to determine whether an applicant's English language ability is in line with that specified in the Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
The report on the Visa Section in Dhaka, Bangladesh can be read here.

The Home Office has published its response to the Independent Chief Inspector's report. It stated that it has made steps to implement processes to address the ICI's concerns, some of which have been raised previously, but accepted that further work still needed to be done to apply them consistently.

You can read the Home Office's full response here.


General Immigration Matters


Migrant access to NHS

The Government has published its response to the consultation on migrant access and financial contribution to NHS provision in England.

The report summarises the responses to the consultation and the Government's proposals in light of the evidence and analysis.

An independent NHS Advisor, Sir Keith Pearson, has been appointed to lead implementation. A senior NHS Reference Group has also been appointed to support design and delivery and a Cost Recovery Director will lead a Cost Recovery Unit supporting implementation with NHS organisations.

A commitment has been included in the Mandate between the Government and NHS England to work together with providers to identify cost-effective ways of maximising the recovery of costs incurred through the treatment of chargeable patients.



Inspection of Visa Sections in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Warsaw, Poland

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, has published two reports on his inspections of Visa Sections in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Warsaw, Poland.

Dhaka, Bangladesh -

The inspection of the Dhaka Visa Section found that the quality of the decision-making was 'poor' across four categories of visa application - settlement, family visitor, other visitors and student applications.

In 36% of cases, he also found that ECOs were not retaining relevant supporting documentation, nor were they recording grounds for their decisions.

The report on the Visa Section in Dhaka, Bangladesh can be read here.

Warsaw, Poland -

The report on the Warsaw Visa Section found that the risk profile being used was not properly aligned with decision outcomes. Subsequently, John Vine recommended that the profile be reviewed to ensure it accurately reflects the application types that pose the greatest risk.


The Visa Section in Warsaw was found to be meeting their customer service standards but decision quality was poor overall (12% of decisions were seriously flawed and a further 24% contained less significant decision-making errors).

The report on the Visa Section in Warsaw, Poland can be read here


The Home Office has 
published its response to the Independent Chief Inspector's report. It stated that it has made steps to implement processes to address the ICI's concerns, some of which have been raised previously, but accepted that further work still needed to be done to apply them consistently.


You can read the Home Office's full response here.


Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration Report: Annual Report 2012-13 (Other Immigration Matters)

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, has published his fifth Annual Report.

Key points concerning 'other' immigration matters were as follows:

  • Poor implementation of policy change by the Home Office (UKBA), as well as poor customer service, had led to lengthy delays for affected asylum seekers.
  • As a result of a previous inspection report, 25,000 cases were re-opened and proper data matching against other government databases and credit reference agencies was now taking place.
  • The original e-Borders scheme had not anticipated risks relating to the compatibility of the e-Borders scheme with European law, nor the lack of alignment with rail and sea operations.
  • There was much greater consistency across ports in the security checks being undertaken. However, he found that Border Force at Calais and Coquelles were not fingerprinting some people who had attempted to enter Britain illegally, whilst ordinary travellers were being subjected to 100% checking.
  • Caseworkers in the UK were found to be granting leave in relation to marriage and civil partnership cases where the applicant and their sponsor did not have adequate funds.
The full report can be downloaded here.



Recognition of Overseas Adoptions


The Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973 (the 'designated list') will be revoked on 3 January 2014 and replaced by 'The Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) Order 2013.

Scotland will also be revoking its previous adoption laws and introduce the Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and the Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013 (The '2013 Scottish Regulations').

As the countries named in the new 2013 Order and 2013 Scottish Regulations are different from the countries in previous adoption laws, recognition of domestic adoptions in some countries has now changed.



Immigration Bill - Removal policy paper

The Government has published draft policy papers for part 1 of the Immigration Bill, including schedules 1 and 2.

These cover the following areas:
  • Powers to enable the removal of persons unlawfully in the UK
  • Enforcement powers
  • Restrictions on bail
  • Additional powers to take biometrics
The draft policy papers can be downloaded here.



New forms for applicants in the UK

The Home Office (UKBA) has published the following new forms for use from 1 December 2013 by applicants who are already in the UK:
  • FLR(P) - for use in place of the FLR(O) if applicant is applying for limited leave to remain in the UK on the basis of:
Family life as a partner of the 10-year route to settlement;
Family life as a parent of a child in the UK (5-year and 10-year routes to settlement);
Private life in the UK;
Family of private life where the applicant knows they do not meet the requirements of the rules but wish to apply anyway
  • FLR(AF) - leave to remain (Armed Forces)
  • SET(AF) - settlement (Armed Forces)
The Home Office (UKBA) has also published new versions of the following application forms:
  • FLR(O) - the revised form will not include categories now covered by the FLR(FP) and FLR(AF) forms
  • FLR(M) - leave to remain (partner)
  • SET(DV) - settlement (victim of domestic violence)
These new forms should be used if applying on or after 1 December 2013. However, the Home Office (UKBA) will continue to accept applications made on the previous version of forms FLR(O), FLR(M) and SET(DV) up to and including 22 December 2013.




Advisory services for asylum seekers

Contract funding has been awarded to Migrant Helpline Ltd for the provision of an asylum support service for asylum seekers.

The contract will start on 1 April 2014.

The service will replace current one-stop and wrap-around arrangements. 



Youth Mobility Scheme - Hong Kong SAR passport holders

Hong Kong SAR passport holders between 18 and 30 will shortly be eligible to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa to the UK.

An agreement has also been reached between the UK and Hong Kong governments to allow 1,000 HK SAR passport holders each year to live, work or study in the UK for up to 2 years and the same number of young Britons to go to Hong Kong.

Prior to making a YMS visa application, HKSAR passport holders must obtain a 'Certificate of Sponsorship' (CoS) from the Hong Kong Labour department.




HR Immigration Services


Training for employers


We are increasingly being asked to provide training on Right to Work and/or Tier 2 sponsor duties.  If you think your organisation would benefit from training in either or both of these areas, please contact us for a no commitment discussion of your requirements at enquiries@veristat.co.uk.


New LinkedIn 'HR Immigration' Group


We have set up a new 'HR Immigration' group on LinkedIn, which aims to provide a networking space for UK employers and HR/recruitment professionals to share and discuss news/best practice about current UK immigration issues.


To join this group please go to http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=6537658


HTS Health-Check


The Veristat Health Check is a one-day objective, external review covering key areas likely to arise during a Home Office visit together with examples of good practice drawn from over 4 years' experience of conducting compliance audits for schools, colleges and universities.

For further information please contact don@veristat.co.uk